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Subjectivity and social structure

Sarah Irwin (School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 25 July 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to foreground social relations and inter‐connections as important components in a conceptualisation of social structure. The paper argues that the seeming disconnection between the normative and the social structural is a problem of explanation rather than a novel feature of contemporary social life.

Design/methodology/approach

Data are used from extended interviews conducted on two areas, concerning ethnicity and belonging, and gender, work and care, generated during the ESRC funded “CAVA” project (Research Group for the Study of Care, Values and the Future of Welfare).

Findings

It is argued that more productive analyses of social diversity and social change ensue from better delineating the mutuality of normative and social processes.

Originality/value

Through its cultural turn, sociological research has reaffirmed the importance of normative and evaluative processes in shaping human experience and social life. However, new accounts have faced difficulties in connecting the normative and subjective with social structural processes. This paper confronts that challenge.

Keywords

Citation

Irwin, S. (2008), "Subjectivity and social structure", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 28 No. 7/8, pp. 273-284. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443330810890682

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited